Data for the boss: evidence of non-use of Health Management Information System (HMIS) data in Bufumbira East health sub-district, Kisoro district
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A goal of the health management information system (HMIS) is to provide reliable, comprehensive information about the health system to health managers, to enable them take decisions that will improve the services provided to the consumers. Whereas HMIS quality concerns like the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of reports have been more commonly assessed and reported about in a number of studies, relatively less documentation is found on the actual utilisation of the information generated from HMIS reports. Yet, the HMIS is not an end in itself but just a tool to inform managers and enable them take informed and timely decisions. This study assessed the utilisation of HMIS data for decision making at the grassroots level in Bufumbira East Health Sub-District (HSD) of Kisoro District. It was found that HMIS data were not used for decision making at the point of collection and that the HMIS was dogged by many problems like few dedicated staff. The staff lacked sensitization on the HMIS and were not trained in completing the reports and data analysis. Lower level units submitted their data directly to the district bypassing the HSD. The HMIS was not planned for and lacked funding and stationery. HMIS functioning was not a subject for support supervision and there was only verbal feedback from the district level. It was recommended that the normal flow of HMIS data through the HSD level be re-established and that support supervision on the HMIS be instituted. Planning for the improvement of the system would ultimately lead to its utilisation.